Comet ISON Captured in Images by Powerful NASA Space Camera

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
October 7, 2013 Updated: July 18, 2015

Comet ISON was captured in images from NASA’s powerful Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The orbiter pointed its High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment at the comet on Sept. 29 and captured multiple images of Comet ISON, which is flying toward the sun while getting closer to Earth.

ISON isn’t very clear in the images, but the images give scientists a chance to learn more about it.

“Based on preliminary analysis of the data, the comet appears to be at the low end of the range of brightness predictions for the observation,” officials in charge of the HiRISE instrument wrote in a statement, reported NBC. “As a result, the image isn’t visually pleasing but low coma activity is best for constraining the size of the nucleus.”

Scientists are planning on taking pictures at three more points in time of the comet using the powerful camera.

On Sept. 26, it was announced the ISON was getting closer to Earth, and is within the reach of backyard telescopes.

ISON will fly through the sun’s atmosphere at a little more than a million kilometers from the sun’s surface.

“If the comet survives–a big IF–it could emerge glowing as brightly as the Moon, briefly visible near the sun in broad daylight. The comet’s dusty tail stretching into the night sky could create a worldwide sensation,” according to NASA.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.